Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and has a population that is composed by many ethnic groups. The country is rich in its natural resources, but is characterized by many years of severe corruption. Nigeria is a member of both the British Commonwealth and the African Union. Archeological research found bones that could date back the human existence in Nigeria by 13,000 years. Nigeria was declared independent from Great Britain, October 1, 1960 and Nigeria’s flag was raised for the first time. A Nigerian student won a competition about making a national flag. Green for arable farming and white as a symbol for unity and peace.
The south part of Nigeria consists of lowland tropical climate and rainforrests, while the northern part consists of plains and savannah. The country has significant oil and gas resources – the extraction of oil has temporarily resulted in severe and serious environment issues. However, Nigeria is fighting the escalating deforestation and desertification in the north part of the country. Oil money is pouring into the treasury, but they are also gushing out again and UNDP is estimating that 70 % of the population is under the poverty line. The money in Nigeria often ends up in the wrong hands, the inflation is double numbered as wasteful overspending is happening side by side with the poverty.
The regime: Nigeria is a federal republic, where the president is a state and government boss and a commander for the army. In spite of the democracy in the country was strengthened with the downfall of the military dictatorship in 1999, Nigeria is still counted as an authoritarian regime country. Corruption characterizes big parts of the society. There are great political, ethnic and religious contradictions in the country, which have over 250 different populations
Disagreements are particularly linked to the control of resources and political influences.
Inhabitants: It is estimated that there was 174.507.539 inhabitants in Nigeria in 2013. The population has raised from 140.003.542 in 2006.
Area: 923.768 km2, where 1,4 % is water
Currency: Naira (100 Naira = $0,53 or $100=28,150 Naira). The Naira was introduced 1/1-1973, and replaced the British pound.
Official languages: English; other languages are Ibibio, Annang, Igbo and Oron. Ibibio is the official language in Akwa Ibom, which together with Efik is talked by 3.500.000.
Biggest town: Lagos with 21 million inhabitants – one of the world’s biggest towns. It is characterized by lack and congestion, pollution of water and air, water bearing diseases, slum and trafficable chaos. HIV and AIDS is spreading, though not as much as in other African countries. Lagos has the biggest national park, the environment is beautiful and one can see animals, such as monkeys, chimpanzees and hippopotamuses.
States: Since 1996, Nigeria has been divided into 36 states and a federal territory, capital Abuja,
which was planned and after that, build in the 1980s and officially replaced Lagos as a capital in 1991.
The states is divided into 774 local authorities (Local Government Areas)
Mass media: Daily Times (started in 1925), was taken over by the government I the 1970’s, but after bad results, the newspaper was privatized in 2004 and was relaunched in 2006. Other big newspapers are National Concord with a presentation about 200.000 and Nigerian Observer with a presentation about 150.000. Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), which is controlled and send by the federal government is sectioned into five zones where they send in English and 15 other languages. Nigerian Television Authority is also controlled by the federal government and has the responsibility for all tv-programs in the country with senders in all states.
Boko Haram: Started in 2002 from a militant Islamic terror group led by Akubakar Shekau. The organization is a huge threat to people’s safety, and mostly exists in the north part of Nigeria. Boko Haram has between 7.000 and 10.000 members and is in conflict with both the government and the Christians in the country. The locals call the members of the organization for Talibans.
The national dish in Nigeria is “pounded yam” – yam is like a big potato or a turnip and is served mashed
which people eat with their fingers and with meat or fish.
In most parts of Africa, the most common dish to eat is chicken and rice or chicken and pommes frites.
Big families is normal in Nigeria. Grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunties, sisters, brothers and in laws – everyone is working together as one unit. Seniority and hierarchy rule family relationships. The family’s reputation is affected by its behavior.
The children: It is a status symbol in Nigeria to have many children. For example, even though a big family is a bigger financial strain, many families has 10 or more children in the eastern part of Nigeria. The national fertility rate is estimated to be 6.31 children per woman in 2006. The birth rate was 43.26 children per 1000 inhabitants, while the death rate was 12 per inhabitant.
However, the child death rate was at 72.6 deaths per 1000 living babies, because of the bad medical facilities and poverty for most Nigerians.
Nigerian families often use the word “uncle” to both men in the family and men outside the family. This also applies to women, where they call the woman for “auntie”, even if they are not in the family.
Women over 45 is often called “mommy” and men over 50, is often called “daddy”. People with a high social status, no matter what age, is called “Sir” or “Madam”, because of the traditional cultural differences towards elderly and people with a higher status, which is important for most Nigerians.
Costs of living: It is very expensive to live in Nigeria. For example, one-liter milk cost about $ 6.54, whereas one-liter whole milk cost about $ 1.19 in Denmark.
See more price examples here: Nigeria – Prices of groceries
Seasons: There are two characteristic seasons in Nigeria: The rainy season, from April to October, and the dry season, from November to March. In the south, the temperature will be about 37 degrees Celsius. March and April is the hottest, where the temperature can be up to 45 degrees Celsius.
Religion: There is almost an equal representation between Muslims and Christians. However, Christianity is the most dominating religion in South Africa, where about 40% of the population is Catholics, Protestants or belongs to local Nigerian church societies. A minority of the population practices the traditional religions, where ancestors and spirits plays a major role.
Schooling: There is no compulsory school attendance or compulsory education in Nigeria. There is private preschool, which does have a fee, in the urban area. This preschool is for the 3 to 5-year-olds, before they go to the 6-year long free basic school. After the basic school, there is a 3-year long senior school, which is followed by either a normal 3-year long education or a vocational training, which can last from 6 months to 3 years, which together is applied by 30% (1994)
The senior school is not free. However, the public higher education is, and takes place in the country’s 30 universities or one of the higher education schools. The school year consists of 3 semesters. School uniforms is obligatory in Nigeria. At many schools, there is also a rule for hair, and girls have to be tonsured at most places.
Travel instructions: The Danish authority does not recommend travels to Nigeria, and right now there is no travel instruction. However, the Swedish ministry of foreign affairs have made travel instructions to Nigeria, where they advise everyone against going to Akwa Ibom, where DINNødhjælp works and helps children accused of being witches. Read more about the English travel instructions here.
Agriculture: Cotton, peanuts, cacao, oil palms and some root vegetables named kassava, yams and taro, is grown in Nigeria. Root vegetables and the palms is grown in the south part of Nigeria, because there is forests and more rain. Many of the crops is grown in south-west Nigeria, where it is drier. The most important domestic animals is cows, goats and poultry. Earlier on, agriculture was one of Nigeria’s most important sources for income from foreign trade. At one time, Nigeria was the world’s biggest exporter of peanuts, cacao beans and palm oil and a major producer of coconuts, citrus fruits, corn, millets, manioc, yams and sugar canes.
About 60% of the Nigerians works with agriculture and Nigeria have big areas with underdeveloped cultivated area. Forestry does not play a major role, because cultivated areas covered by forests only make up about 9% of the country.
Fauna: The animal life is rich and varied, though the population of important great species (elephants, rhinos and others) has been heavily reduced. Species with a great spreading is for example, leopards, many small predators (civet cats, mongooses, servals), meerkats, many rodents (squirrel species and porcupines).
In the north part of the savannah, there are many antelope species, giraffes, wart hogs, lions, stopped hyenas, bustards (a crane specie), common pheasants and guinea fowls.
Forests elephants, bushpigs, chimpanzees and baboons is living in the forests.
There is observed more than 940 bird species in Nigeria. There are numerous of kites, vultures and falcons. The forests are home to many bird species such as jako, turaco and bulbul.
The forests also have a rich fauna of snakes, spiders, lizards and insects among big butterflies, goliath beetles and cockroaches.
Flora: The vegetation varies from south to north, depending on the rainfall. It grows in the east western zones, parallel with equator. Along the coast, there is a belt of mangrove forests and fresh water swamps, up to 75 km broad in the Niger delta. The plain within takes over the tropical rainforest, with species such as mahogany, cacao tree and oil palms, which are economical important. In the most densely populated areas, the original vegetation is replaced by the cultivated forests.
The middle part of Nigeria has tropical forests in the valleys and the savannahs on the plateaus. The wooded savannah with gallery forrest along the rivers covers more than half of the area north of the forest zone. Baobab, tamarind and parkia aricana is the most common wood species. Farthest against north the savannah becomes a half desert with spreading of acacia trees and doumpalms.
The Afarabaum is a West African hardwood tree, which is native to Nigeria. It’s a tall tree, which is usually grown for the use of timber. The tree has pale wood. Nigeria also has a kind of a sister tree, the Black Afara tree, which is native to the region. The tree can reach a height of 150 metre. The wood of the tree is in the heartwood tan colored and may have black markings. The Afara tree is a little shiny and do also produce a mild scent. The dark-colored trees can be divided in dark, black or dark Afara Limba. Splinters of the tree can cause inflammation in the skin. The Nigerian walnut exist in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It has many other names, for example Alona tree, Anamenila, Bibolo, Bombulu, Congo Wood, Dibetou, Dubin Biri, Embero, Eyan, Ghana walnut, Lifaki Muindo, Lovoa tree, Mpengwa and Nigerian golden walnut. These trees are mainly used for wood working projects such as chairs, stools, tables and wardrobes. This tree can reach a height of 130 metre and 122 cm in diameter. The scent of wood can be compared with cedar.
Resources: Nigeria does also have large amount of underutilized natural resources such as naturel gas, coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, lead and zinc.. Approximately 60% of electricity is produced by fossil fuels, the rest by hydropower. A small amount of electricity is exported.